Scary and Hard

December 14, 2007

Change is SCARY and HARD. I am working on changing the way I deal with food – something I deal with about 5 or more times a day. It’s not easy.

My new approach, which I call Low Stress Weight Loss is really about finding a way to manage my weight without losing my sanity. But I’m out of my comfort zone. Luckily I found Dr Hope who is giving me a lot of lessons that are in line with what I’m trying to achieve.

In truth, as much as I’d love to be several sizes smaller (about 4), I’ll gladly get there a year or two later in exchange for my sanity and an approach that I feel will work for me long-term. Which means biting the bullet and doing some hard thinking. And changing.

Part of what makes the change scary is my weight loss history. I’ve always been someone who believes in ‘if it’s not broke, don’t fix it’ and ‘don’t re-invent the wheel’. So if I need to lose weight again why not just return to what’s worked for me in the past?

My first successful weight loss (40 pounds) was following the low-fat craze, and I kept a very simple food journal of listings of foods I ate with no portions or calories calculated. Eventually my weight loss slowed, and then stalled, probably because plates of pasta piled to the sky or boxes of Snackwells fat-free cookies does not lead to losing weight. What I thought I learned here was that I needed to be more structured, and do more than just keep a list for serious weight loss. I didn’t keep those 40 pounds off for very long, but I’m no longer so sure it was because of the lack of structure – I was eating huge quantities of low-fat food, and I suspect in calories it was just too much.

My 2002 weight loss success was built on rigorous record keeping and even more rigorous exercise (with record keeping for that too). All the record keeping appealed deeply to my control-freak tendencies, and gave me things to obsess over. Since that effort was successful, this time not just in the short term, but in the long term. From 250+ I lost weight and eventually settled around 185-190 where I’ve been for 5+ years (recent slip-up not included).

So each time I’ve made an attempt to diet since 2003 it’s always been a return to the 2002 approach – strict diet, tons of exercise, and lots of record keeping. Except it hasn’t worked for me again. Which I know is actually a good thing, because I was miserably unhappy with my life in 2002 which is why I dedicated myself 100% to my weight. I needed and wanted a change, and so I made some radical ones. It worked.

My life today is totally different than in 2002, and all for the better. Today I am happy. Living in a fabulous city, married to, and in love with, a man who is such a great match for me sometimes I have to pinch myself to see I’m not dreaming, with a decent job, good prospects for the future and a diverse and balanced set of interests and activities. Of course maniacal dieting is not going to work with that. I don’t want it to.

In writing this I’m realizing that this new approach is about paying attention. Which is not what I did on the low-fat plan at all. And it’s about pleasure and moderation, which was not the approach in 2002, it’s not obsession.

It’s going to take time to learn how to do this, but it’s an interesting set of lessons.

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